tv NBC Nightly News NBC October 16, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
on our broadcast tonight, high stakes. a lot of folks believe this is the most crucial single night of the campaign. the second debate has all eyes on the president after romney's last performance. and our political team is in place. what's the alternative? when traditional medicine just can't get at back pain, as our series of reports looks at what does work. the scandal in small town in maine involving a zumba dance instructor. charges of prostitution, and the names being released now of the men alleged to be her customers. and the matriarch of the kennedy family. tonight our rare and exclusive interview with ethel kennedy, alongside the youngest of her 11 children, as she looks back on her life and loss. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening, on what could be the single most important night of the presidential campaign thus far. tonight there is an enormous amount of pressure on president obama, because his last debate performance was seen as so lacking against an energized challenge from governor romney, that it actually moved the numbers. it moved the polls even in some places that seemed to be settling in for the democrats. tonight, the second of three debates has a lot to do with the format. it's a town hall. the questions will be gathered from undecided voters. the stakes are high. the viewing audience is expected to be enormous. our political team is in place to start us off tonight, beginning with nbc's peter alexander. he's inside the debate venue at hofstra university on long island. peter, good evening. >> brian, good evening to you. 82 undecided voters picked from here in new york's nassau county will share this set with the
president and mitt romney tonight. and nothing is left to chance. the president will be introduced first. that was determined by a coin toss. and mitt romney will get the night's first question. flanked by advisers, president obama squeezed in one more short debate prep session this morning in virginia. >> how are you feeling about tonight? >> i'm feeling fabulous, look at this beautiful day. >> reporter: touching down on long island, governor romney also met privately with his team, intent on duplicating his strong first debate showing. tonight the challenge, president obama rebounding from his performance two weeks ago, and stopped his opponent's surge. aides say mr. obama will be firm but respectful. >> you want to connect directly with that voter and talk to them. i know the president will, about what we've done and where we've come from, most importantly, where he sees taking this country over the course of the next four years. >> reporter: the governor's challenge, establish an emotional connection with voters, upending the stereotype that he's out of touch. >> people who get to know him really like the guy.
and second, talk about your policy proposal. he has a passion for them. the reason he's in this race is to make things better for people. and when he lays that out, it's very compelling. >> reporter: earlier today, romney picked up the endorsement of a town hall debate veteran, past presidential candidate ross perot. tonight's town hall will be managed strictly. the temperatures set to 65 degrees. and after each question, the audience member's mike will be immediately shut off. analysts emphasize the importance of tonight's debate for women, with polls showing the president's wide lead among women eroding. it's why the president's advisors say he'll likely bring up governor romney's shifting position on abortion rights. and why the republican super pac founded by karl rove is spending $11 million on ads aimed at women in swing states. >> my family can't afford another four years like this. >> reporter: today the romney campaign is responding to questions surrounding paul ryan's recent visit to a soup kitchen. breakfast was over, but the staff agreed to leave some dirty dishes behind. ryan's aides say they just
wanted to highlight volunteerism and local charity. both sides are weather looking for ways to cast tonight's debate aa win in the days ahead, trying to amplify their message, particularly in the crucial battleground of ohio. former secretary of state condoleezza rice will be there for mitt romney this week, as well as bill clinton and bruce springsteen, brian, for the president. >> peter alexander starting off our coverage tonight. peter, thanks. and now to our political team, starting with our political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd, also on the ground of the campus of hofstra university tonight. chuck, earlier today you said you could make an argument that we're now entering the most important single 36-hour period of this campaign thus far. give us a viewer's guide to tonight? >> well, i know that we can be accused of overhyping the moment.
this is one of those times we're not overhyping. this is the moment. this is the time you can see this campaign shift. it is not in cement, if you will. let me tell you what the romney campaign thinks. they have huge confidence here. they are acting as if they're the front-runner. they believe they have nothing new to do. they plan on ignoring many of the attacks that the president is going to put out at them, they say, and instead try to have a conversation with people. as for the president, aides admit to me, he failed to answer the simple question that ted kennedy famously couldn't answer, which is, why do you want a second term? and what do you plan to do? and that's something they plan to do. the big target of tonight's debate, brian, is suburban women. the romney folks have not peeled them away from the president, you're going to hear the president talk a lot about abortion. you're going to hear romney talk about pocketbook issues,
thinking that's the way to target this specific group. >> chuck todd out at hofstra. chuck, thanks. and now, let's go to andrea mitchell, our chief foreign affairs correspondent. andrea, as you know, foreign affairs is the topic of the third and final debate. but there's no law against it coming up tonight. and today, the secretary of state hillary clinton did something critical for the top of the ticket. >> she did. she talked about benghazi, she took the blame. republicans tell me if one of the questioners does not bring up benghazi tonight, mitt romney will find a way to work it in. on the eve of the debate, though, as you pointed out, the secretary of state in peru did interviews with all the networks, trying to let the president off the hook in advance of the debate. and take the blame for the administration. watch. >> look, i take responsibility. i'm in charge of the state department. 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts. the president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. i don't think we want to get into any blame game. i think what we want to do is get to the bottom of what happened, figure out what we're going to do to protect people and prevent it from happening again, and track down whoever did it and bring them to justice.
>> white house officials tell me that the president is prepared to take this on tonight, to take responsibility and respond to charges from romney and from senate republicans who say the administration was either incompetent or not anticipating the terror threat. brian? >> andrea mitchell part of our team out at hofstra tonight. andrea, thanks. all of which brings us to david gregory, moderator of "meet the press," with us here in the studio. we started out the broadcast by saying the last debate really did move the numbers. even numbers that were starting to set, if you look at them like cement. by that standard, tonight could move them once again? >> it's so important. on the up side for the president, if he does really well here, could he restore what he had, which is an edge in this race? or does he fall back even further. from having an edge to having it be a tight race to getting behind? here's the reality, and the obama team knows it, they are losing ground on their effort to disqualify mitt romney as an alternative to president obama. so now the president's got to be more forward looking. does he have a prescription for what he wants to do with the next four years and can he win that agenda tonight?
a lot of confidence in the romney team. why? because they think the people got a second look, and they realized, this is not the guy we're seeing in all those nasty obama campaign ads. so he's getting that second look, and during that first debate, he did a lot with it. >> david, we'll see you here as part of our coverage tonight. david gregory among those with us tonight. and a reminder, you can see tonight's debate here on this nbc station, every moment of it starting at 9:00 eastern, 6:00 p.m. on the west coast. our nbc news political team will be back, of course, for the post debate analysis. social security checks will get a tiny bit bigger next year. the federal officials announced today what the cost of living adjustment for 2013 will be. a 1.7% increase, which for the average beneficiary in this country amounts to an extra $21 a month. it's not much. that will bring the average monthly benefit to $1,261. for a lot of social security recipients, the increase will be partially eaten up, of course, by higher medicare premiums. if you are one of
citigroup's millions of customers, perhaps you heard the news this morning that the ceo, vikram pandit, abruptly resigned. pandit told cnbc today he's been thinking about leaving for a while. but then multiple reports say he's been fighting with the board of directors over strategy, and the performance of some of the banks division. citigroup stock finished higher along with the rest of the stock market. this next story has consumed a small town in maine, not far from the famous home of former president of george herbert walker bush. suddenly it's in the news around the globe for something that started very small. a local exercise instructor, who is now accused of being the woman behind a vast local prostitution business. and the local cops are naming names of the accused male customers. nbc's katy tur reports tonight from kennebunk, maine. >> reporter: a modern day,
scarlet letter story, set in this picturesque town of 10,000. in kennebunk, maine, scandal is afoot. >> it's not a big enough community where you can ignore something like this. >> reporter: at its center, the contents of a list, the names of 100 local men who allegedly paid to have sex with this woman. alexis wright was the local zumba dance teacher. >> they need to put the whole list out. >> reporter: court papers allege wright was selling sex out of this now empty studio and secretly videotaping the encounters. prosecutors have charged her and a male partner with more than 100 counts, including prostitution and privacy violation. both have pleaded not guilty. this man, who says he's not a client, but says he shares the same name as a man on the list, says it's made his last 24 hours a nightmare. >> it felt like getting hit in the face with a frying pan, and they didn't even have the courtesy to warm up the pan. >> it's all anyone's talking about right now. >> reporter: laura dolsey is the editor of the "york county coast
star." >> i think there are a lot of folks who are upset about the list being made public. i think people are saying, keep it private, we don't know how it's going to affect families and children. >> reporter: and this won't be over any time soon. more names are slated to be released in the coming days as this investigation continues. so local residents wait. >> they want it to be over and done with. but others are curious to see who's on the list. >> reporter: as the case winds through the courts, folks in this small coastal town are bracing for the fallout. katy tur, nbc news, kennebunk, maine. still ahead as we continue along the way tonight, they used to call it alternative medicine. now they're calling it relief from back pain when the normal methods haven't worked. and later, one woman's famous journey. a rare and fascinating interview tonight with ethel kennedy on her american life and public loss.
by one estimate, 80% of us complain of back pain. it's a problem so chronic for some people, they have run out of solutions that at least conventional medicine can offer them. as we've been asking in our series of reports on medicine this week, what is the alternative? our report tonight from dr. nancy snyderman. >> reporter: kathy is playing music again. a small but significant sign that her days of agonizing back pain are over. >> i'm feeling much more hopeful. >> reporter: when two surgeries failed to reduce the
excruciating nerve pain shooting down her legs commonly called sciatica, she turned to technology and a device called a spinal cord stimulater. >> i can increase or decrease the intensity. >> reporter: the goal? >> how are you making out? >> i'm better. >> reporter: pain relief and reduce dependency on powerful painkillers. neurostimulation, around since the late '60s, has come a long way. >> once we get the stimulation into the right area, we finetune it. >> reporter: implanted under the skin of the lower back, the device lets the patient control the level of pain fighting electrical current to the nerve. >> if the patient doesn't have surgically correctible reason for their pain, they can't get adequate relief with nerve pain medications, that's the time to think about a spinal cord stimulater. >> use your stomach to curl back. >> reporter: the spinal cord stimulater is just one step in resuming an active lifestyle. kathy is complimenting her recovery with regular workouts. designed to strengthen her core. >> that strength is flowing out of your legs.
>> reporter: martha mason teaches a technique called gyrotonic. one of a variety of strengthening and breathing methods that is important to maintaining back health. >> it's very important to get your muscles strong beforehand, if you're planning a surgery. and if it's an accident you haven't planned for, get the body moving as quickly as possible. >> the kidneys control the low back. >> reporter: other treatments for back pain, acupuncture, long considered an alternative therapy, mounting evidence suggests it is a viable early option for stimulating the body's natural painkillers. >> just by the insertion of needles at certain points, you get this brain activity that releases endorphins. and just the release of endorphins into the body has numerous physiological effects that can help with stress, it can help with sleep, it can help with pain relief. >> reporter: in the case of the stimulaters, the surgery takes two and a half hours, the device stays in for life and the battery is replaced every ten years. and good news, the risks are
minimal and this is covered by insurance. bottom line, brian, doctors want patients to be pain free and off the narcotics. whether it's acupuncture or this, there are remedies. >> such interesting stuff this week. nancy, as always, thank you. up next here tonight, what one expert says are the best four days of the year for flying.
we want to show you a bit of it, but on our website tonight we have posted an incredible piece of video. time lapse of the shuttle "endeavour's" 64-hour trek through the streets of l.a. this past weekend. you get to see what it was like day and night, from inside an upstairs bedroom as it passed by. the folks on a porch who could almost reach out and touch it. former south dakota senator george mcgovern has entered hospice care, approaching what his family says is the end of his life. the decorated world war ii veteran, long-time liberal lion is 90 years old. he's been in failing health in
recent years. some big names are missing from the walls at a dutch art museum. picasso, monet, matisse, taken in the middle of the night by thieves, with good taste and a stealth approach. police say they have it all on security video. they just don't have the paintings. an airfare analyst in "usa today" is out with a list of the four best days of the year to fly. they are thanksgiving day this year, because fares go down from preholiday levels. december 18th, the last day before the christmas flying week price hikes. march 20th, because flights to europe go up in price 20% the next day. and june 3rd, for the best fares from the west coast to tokyo on singapore airlines super jumbo airbus 380. we've posted the entire list for you on the web. up next here tonight, an american woman who has lived long enough to see it all.
hbo is debuting a documentary thursday night about the very public american life of ethel kennedy. at 84, she's certainly a survivor having lost her husband and two of her 11 children. she's seldom spoken about her life, about any of it. but she talked to us about the parts of her story she's chosen
to reveal now. >> i mean, how lucky could i really have been? >> ethel kennedy makes a big distinction between counting her blessings and not looking back too much. while she does not enjoy being interviewed, she said yes to her daughter rory, a documentary filmmaker who wanted to tell her mom's extraordinary story. >> we're making a documentary about you. [ laughter ] >> it's a bad idea. >> ethel skakel and bobby kennedy came from similar backgrounds, unwieldy, wealthy catholic families. various skakels dated various kennedys and she met bobby on a ski trip. her enthusiasm and devotion to him built his confidence even in his brother's shadow. >> everything came so naturally to jack. bobby always had to struggle for it. for everything. and he always thought it was because he was at the bottom of the heap growing up.
>> it turned out she loved the life, the campaigning, the camelot years, and after jfk's assassination, when brother bobby lapsed into darkness for months, she was there at the '64 convention for something we won't see again. a 15 minute standing ovation for her husband. lbj became a looming figure, his relationship with bobby was toxic, even though johnson can be heard on white house tapes trying to be upbeat on the phone. >> mr. president. >> hi, bobby. >> how are you? >> fine. >> what up close memories do you have of lyndon johnson? >> he wasn't a great bobby fan. >> and visa versa? >> yes. >> all right, we'll leave it at that. >> thank you. >> bobby kennedy broke with lbj to run for president. that ended with his assassination in los angeles. a subject his widow cannot discuss to this day. >> then we lost daddy.
>> can we talk about something else? >> mrs. ethel kennedy gave birth today -- >> rory kennedy, the last of 11 kids was born six months after her father was killed, with the whole world watching. >> i told ethel, i think joan and i are going to take this baby home. we think ethel has enough of them. >> you know, i think i just couldn't help smiling. >> ethel's life with bobby was organized bedlam. she was pregnant for an astonishing 99 months of her life. it was a life of children and animals, including 16 dogs at the same time. and a sea lion named sandy who lived in the family swimming pool. do you think you required a certain amount of chaos around you, to be in your natural happy state? >> i enjoyed a lot of different things, different -- a lot of different animals.
and, of course, children. >> throw them all in the same category. >> you all made a lot of noise. >> thank you. >> these days, ethel kennedy's life is mostly about her 35 grandchildren. there always seems to be one or two running for office. and right now, one of them is dating taylor swift. >> what's it like hanging out with taylor swift? >> well, what fun? i mean, she is such a delight. the thing about taylor, she's so game. she'll go sailing, she never sailed. she'll drag behind the boat, she's never done that. she plays flashlight tag at night, they're all running around bumping into each other and falling into bushes. she's remarkable. >> our thanks for mrs. kennedy for our time together. there's more of our interview on our website nbcnightlynews.com. that is our broadcast for a tuesday evening. thank you for being here with us.